Type: Trad, 320 ft, 2 pitches
FA: Howie Richardson, Jim Kanzler
Page Views: 10,111 total · 48/month
Shared By: Kevin Fons on Dec 31, 2001
Admins: Andrew Gram, Peter Gram, Greg Parker, Mike Madsen, Mark Rafferty

You & This Route

73 Opinions

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The route starts on the North Side of the spire - you can't miss it. The route follows the awesome dihedral.

A few weird moves gets you up to the start of the main dihedral. There are great stances for placing gear and then you move up and out - the dihedral is almost like reverse mini steps. It kind of goes like this - place gear, move up and out, loose sight of the gear because it is under the mini overhang, place another piece and repeat. When I climbed the route my partner kept saying to me - it looks like it eases up after the next move - after just about every move (not sure of the crux - just a lot of fun 5.8 moves with good gear ...). There is nothing like looking down between your legs in a stem and seeing your partner on the ground 170 feet below you. After the first pitch belay on the obvious ledge.The route then moves up and right - follow the path of least resistance up and to the top. We got into a weird awkward section with strange gear but it looks like we got off route. There is a great view from the top but that's the norm in the spires.You can either descend back down to the ledge and down to the base via two double rope rappels (check to see if the bolt(s) at the ledge have been replaced on the way up. Or, you can rappel down the south face and check out the Yellow face route. Note the second rappel you will need to move right (east) to reach the base of the slabs. Don't rap straight down off the ends of your rope - it would hurt.


Standard rack.
A beautiful corner with many solid gear options. The crux is pretty much the first 30-40 feet of climbing while fishing in gear...perhaps this 8+ is a touch underated, but not by much...expect a tough 8 at any rate. After that, the going is solid and eases up a bit to the obvious ledge out right of where the corner eases to low 5th class exit on right. The anchors at the ledge are old and should be replaced with stainless bolts and hangers since this is an obviously well-traveled classic. We bailed after the first pitch due to oncoming rain and thunder, but it looks like the meat and potatoes is the first pitch anyways. Set of stoppers, one each of 0.5-3 Camalots, and my first piece was a BallNut about 15 feet up. Jun 25, 2004
Tony B
Around Boulder, CO
Tony B   Around Boulder, CO
This is best done as a single pitch. At the first pitch ledge, ignore the anchors that would take you up and right only to come back left again for P2, creating drag for both pitches. Instead, just keep climbing up past the belay ledge, past the bushy ledge, and up a corner and crack past the old fixed stopper, and to the summit ridge. Take plenty of gear and slings, it is a straight shot to the top (~60meters). Then move the belay up and right for 30' of 5.5 climbing to the rap anchors.

While two 70m ropes would get you to the ground from the top anchor, you would stand to loose them, stuck in boulders on the ledge when you pulled them, so...
Rap on a single rope (60M or 70M) down and hard left to the first ledge belay station, then on a single 70M to the ground. A single 60M would be VERY close to being down even without rope stretch and should work just fine if you swing uphill (left) on the raps.
We had tons of rope on the ledge at the first rap we had ~5 meters of rope laying on the ground on each end of our 70M after rapping on a single line. Jul 30, 2006
Brent Kertzman
Black Hills, SD
  5.10- PG13
Brent Kertzman   Black Hills, SD
  5.10- PG13
It has been a long time since I first climbed this route. Climbed it today and it sure felt like 5.10-. Similar to the difficulty of Tulgey Wood on Devils Tower (5.10-). I've heard others compare this route to the difficulty of the first pitch of Tulgey Wood.

The climbing is excellent but the first 25 feet are a bit serious and IMHO warrant the PG-13 rating due to the close proximity of the ground and a lack of gear in the first 15 feet. A fall from the crux despite bomber gear will bring one very close to the ground.

The moves are committing, awkward and pumpy above the first gear. The second gear placements are a good 10 feet above the first gear. The gear above this point is trucker and the climbing is 5.8+. Yet another great Needles sandbag. Jul 30, 2010
Corey Morris
Landstuhl, Germany
Corey Morris   Landstuhl, Germany
Ya...the first 15 ft. seemed I had to hump the rock with no pro...very ackward...IMHO not 5.10 but maybe all of 5.9 on the starting moves which then eases up...great climb. Aug 1, 2010
Tim McCabe
Tucson, AZ
Tim McCabe   Tucson, AZ
Brent I totally agree on the PG13, witnessed a near meltdown on it once, not sure about the rating its been a long time. Maybe things have changed holds break who knows.

Not sure exactly what Tony is trying to describe. For the second pitch I always went straight up a thin crack right above the belay. Always thought that pitch was the crux at about 5.9 Jan 30, 2012
Kevin Fons
Kevin Fons  
I do remember the start being a little dicy but this is one of my all time favorite routes. I wouldn't call it a sandbag though.
There are several possibilities on the second pitch some easier than others. Feb 17, 2012
Robbie Freidel
The Needles of South Dakota
Robbie Freidel   The Needles of South Dakota
I just did this route. Not sure if I agree with the pg13 rating as there is bomber gear to protect the crux. The easy climbing just above the crux may get a little run out but if you can pull the crux you shouldnt have a problem with that. We set up a trad anchor At the top of the first pitch adjacent to the bolted anchors and about ten feet left. For the second pitch I went up the awkward flaring chimney on the left almost straight up for the first pitch. I'm not very good with chimney ratings but it felt like an appropriate second pitch for this climb. The chimney has great pro but little to no hand holds. We topped out on the northeast summit of khayyam. We then made a third pitch by traversing and going up a short 5.0 northeast facing crack past a very old very bad piton. We then climbed up the main summit. The container the register is in should most likely be replaced. The accual register was very wet. We made it to the ground from the rap station we past on the way up at the end of the first pitch with 1 60m rope although it was very close. Very fun climb no matter how you do it I think. Jun 11, 2012
Mark Orsag
Omaha, NE
  5.9 PG13
Mark Orsag   Omaha, NE
  5.9 PG13
Routes like this are what make climbing, an at times life-changing, sport and not a game. Awesome. A classic... I do agree that it is a bit dangerous and sandbagged (and I didn't even lead the crux pitch on it). Gear is lacking at a number of points though... I have heard of several accidents or injuries on it and, while walking by it, have several times seen gear on it from climbers that had bailed off. Kamps Route (not listed on MP) on the other side of this formation is pretty awesome too-- probably a 3.5 star route and a bit easier as well though still with a run out crux second pitch. May 2, 2013
Wilson On The Drums
Woodbury, MN
Wilson On The Drums   Woodbury, MN
This climb is great. I was a little confused as to where we should go for the second pitch but I believe it goes straight up from the bolted anchor at the end of pitch one. 1st pitch had a couple hard 5.8 moves to get going but then eases up after that and then finishes on a set of double cracks with a couple hard 5.8 moves as well. The route then goes 15 or so feet right to the bolted anchor. We went straight up from here for the second pitch and it was really enjoyable. There was good protection in the two vertical cracks and some moves clocked in at 5.9. there was a bit of exposed and somewhat unprotected moves above these cracks but there was good holds and the climbing was straightforward. going straight up like this will lead you to a horn with a couple of pieces of webbing and rap rings on it. Easy 5.0 to the summit from there. no need for two ropes, Two single rope 70m raps will get you down to the ground with room to spare. single set of nuts 3-13, 2 sets of cams from .3-3 bd c4, and some long slings/draws. Jun 20, 2013
Hartford, SD
  5.9 PG13
TREEfool   Hartford, SD
  5.9 PG13
Pitch 1 is no where near 170 feet. We only wanted to climb p1 and brought two ropes with but we only needed one rope to rappel to the ground from the "obvious belay ledge". This is the big ledge to the right of the crack that has a nice set of bolts to rap from.

And I agree with the others that the first 30' are pg13. I definitely would give this route a 5.9 rating due to the first crux move. Jul 10, 2013
Roy Reichle
Saint Helena, NE
Roy Reichle   Saint Helena, NE
I climbed this route Memorial Day 2017. It was cold, but comfortable enough.

In the initial 20 feet, I was able to find quite a bit of pro, thin-wires, as I made my way up the right-hand wall. It felt tenuous at times, but overall the climb was safe.

Once I started stemming the dihedral, the climb was just fun and very well protected. I was so in the zone that I climbed past the bolted anchors and had to build an anchor about 15 feet above them. Then I traversed back to the right over easy, but sketchy ground until I attained the summit.

God's Own Drunk has been on my tick list since I climbed with the first ascentionist, Jim Kanzler, back in 1989. We met up in Rio de Janerio, Brazil. Once I saw it in person, it took my breath away. What a beautiful dihedral! I highly recommend the route. May 29, 2018